Vincent van Gogh: A Self-Portrait in Art and Letters
By Vincent van Gogh; edited by H. Anna Suh and translated into Korean by Lee Chang-sil; Syso Communications; 217 pp., 13,00 won
Local fans of Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853 1890) can now have a more intimate look into his life thorough a collection of his personal letters, translated into Korean and published last month.
Throughout his life, Gogh wrote hundreds of letters, many to his brother Theo, who acted as patron, agent and confidant. The artist fought poverty, a struggle for recognition and alternating fits of madness throughout his life. He also corresponded with other family members and fellow artists, including contemporaries Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard.
His work is notable for its rough beauty and bold color and had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art, but in his lifetime, he was not appreciated. He died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted.
The letters are set side-by-side with more than 250 of his most renowned paintings.
David Byrne; translated from English to Korean by Lee Eun-sun; Bada; 411 pp., 22,000 won
David Byrne, a former member of a post-punk pop group Talking Heads from the 1980s published a book on the cultures of many cities’ from a globe trotter’s perspective.
“Bicycle Diaries” is an intimate travelogue that begins in London. He started riding a bike in New York City, and after discovering folding bicycles he has been biking around the world.
His first bike route in the book is from Shepherd’s Bush to Whitechapel, for a meeting with a gallery director. He measures his progress by using the city’s monuments as markers.
Later, he cycles along Oxford Street. He continues on in other metropolises including Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Manila and Sydney. Byrne shares his views on urban planning, art and the modernity of life in general. The book reads like a witty conversation with a down-to-earth friend about what one sees around him or her.
Kim Nam-il; Asia Publishers: 204 pp., 13,000 won
This is not your typical guidebook or travelogue on Hanoi. Novelist Kim Nam-il provides a multifaceted sketch of the Vietnamese city more in the style James Joyce wrote about Dublin, than how Lonely Planet or colorfully illustrated photo essays introduce exotic getaways.
The author writes “This is not a story about Hanoi; Hanoi itself is a story.” He thought it would be wiser to provide a rich web of stories capturing the spirit of a place.
The book is divided into three parts, each titled in a rather abstract way: “Where Hanoi is Rooted,” “The Times of Hanoi, the Times of Man” and “The Souls of Those That Dwell in Hanoi.”
In poetic prose, he provides historical and contemporary anecdotes while quoting a wealth of local and international writers such as Bao Ninh. Readers can learn about the first Korean to do scholarly work on Vietnam while residing there in the 1930s or about the French occupation of the South Asian country in the eyes of literary giant Albert Camus and the bicycling culture of local residents.
Smart Work: Revolution of works and workplaces
Oh Ik-jae; Sungandang; 296pp., 13,800 won
Everything gets smart as demonstrated by the frenzy over smartphones, which have changed the face of the industry and everyday lifestyles of people once and for all.
“Smart Work” offers a glimpse of the revolutionary changes on the horizon with regard to the way people will work and the features which their future workplaces will embrace.
“In a situation where people can communicate with each other at any time and at any place, conventional constraints of time and place will start disappearing,” author Oh Ik-jae says.
As a well-known expert, Oh has covered the paradigm shift of communications in the digital era — from a linear one to a non-linear one with the advent of the Internet.